Sunset Spirits Issue

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Spirits Competition Award Winners

PLANT YOUR OWN COCKTAIL GARDEN ESPRESSO MARTINI MASTERCLASS INSIDE THE WEST’S BOTANICAL REVOLUTION

Special

SPIRITS ISSUE

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AMAZING BOTTLINGS INVENTIVE RECIPES TRIPS AND SIPS

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CONTENTS SPIR ITS ISSU E 2022

04

Editor’s Letter Our current state of imbibing

06

Coming Up Roses Add a rose-flavored twist to your cocktails with rosolio.

08

Making a Comeback The espresso martini gets a pandemic-fueled boost.

10

Get Growing Get garnishes straight from your own garden.

16

Road Trip, On the Rocks Discover libations up and down the coast.

20

Sober Curious The West’s botanical spirits have never been better.

26

Camp Cocktails Set up a movable mixology kit at your campsite.

30

The Art of Sake Meet the West Coast makers redefining this beverage.

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2022 Awards Congratulations to this year’s winners!

On the Cover Spirits Competition Award Winners

PLANT YOUR OWN COCKTAIL GARDEN ESPRESSO MARTINI MASTERCLASS INSIDE THE WEST’S BOTANICAL REVOLUTION

SPIRITS ISSUE

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AMAZING BOTTLINGS INVENTIVE RECIPES TRIPS AND SIPS

A cocktail at Rory’s Place in Ojai, California Photograph by TH O MAS J. STO RY

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A savory cocktail at Seattle’s Tomo.

THOMAS J. STORY

Special


•D

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Sunset Spirits Awards Best of Class Best Liqueur 94 Points Pendray’s Distillery Amaro Liqueur

A

O

Nestled Uin the small townDof Templeton on California’s Central Coast, BL E M Pendray’s Distillery, in 2013, is a family-owned Distillery E G O L Destablished specializing in hand-crafted Brandy, Liqueurs, and Grappa. Pendray’s Amaro is ideal as an aperitif, cocktail mixer, or an after-dinner drink. Using a base of blood oranges, 20 different bittering roots, aromatic herbs, spices, and flowers are then infused to create a deeply satisfying, complex, slightly bitter liqueur. One sip is all you will need to be convinced. pendraysdistillery.com


EDITOR’S NOTE

Stirring Up the West CHAIRMAN & PUBLISHER

Michael A. Reinstein

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Hugh Garvey CREATIVE DIRECTOR

Stephen Kamifuji PHOTO EDITOR

Christine Bobbish STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Thomas J. Story

SENIOR EDITOR

Kristin Scharkey DIGITAL EDITOR

Jennifer Konerman SOCIAL MEDIA EDITOR

Latheleene Brown

Jun Kwon, beverage manager at Damian restaurant in Los Angeles, crafts a cocktail at the bar.

Despite the Western origins of the margarita and the martini, for the better part of a century, the history of spirits in the United States has been rooted toward the east, with its storied New York cocktail culture and the iconic distilleries of the South. But over the years, enterprising distillers, itinerant cocktailians, bartender visionaries, and homegrown drinks enthusiasts have transformed the West into one of the most vibrant, progressive, and thriving regions for all things drinks. Our annual spirits issue is where we celebrate the people and companies keeping this spirit of the West alive. In these pages you’ll find the illustrious winners of our annual Sunset International Spirits Competition. Every year, we convene to taste and evaluate hundreds of worthy competitors and bestow awards on the best spirits brands in the West and beyond. The list of winners is a handy way for drinks lovers to keep on top of who’s who and what to drink in the various spirits categories. And as any bartender—amateur or otherwise—knows, what happens in the glass is where a spirit comes alive. That’s why we’ve included cocktail recipes from some of the best restaurants and bars from Seattle to Ojai, drinks to enjoy by the campfire, and tips for growing your own cocktail-friendly herbs at home so you can enjoy a fresh garden-to-glass cocktail any time. Mix a drink, pull up a chair, and join me in toasting all of the innovators celebrated in this issue.

Christine Lennon

CONTRIBUTING GARDEN EDITOR

Deanna Kizis

DIGITAL PRODUCER/NEWSLETTER EDITOR

Nicole Clausing STAFF WRITER

J. D. Simkins

LIFESTYLE CONTRIBUTOR

Camille Styles

PRODUCTION DIRECTOR

Jamie Elliott

VICE PRESIDENT, DIGITAL INITIATIVES

Matt Gross

EDITORIAL INTERN

Ashley Dunne Sales SVP, MEDIA SOLUTIONS

Mort Greenberg VP, PARTNERSHIPS

Kathleen Craven HEAD OF TRAVEL

Pamela Coffey HEAD OF OUTDOOR

Kristi Rummel

SVP, REVENUE OPERATIONS

Kelly Facer

DIRECTOR OF AD OPERATIONS

Mindy Morgan

ACCOUNT MANAGER

Cheers,

—Hugh Garvey,

CONTRIBUTING HOME & DESIGN EDITOR

Cammeo Murray

E D ITO R-I N - CH I E F

Marketing HEAD OF CUSTOM EVENTS

Tracy Seng

Sunset Media International Corporation

@sunsetmag

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BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

Tom Griffiths Graydon Sheinberg

VP, AUDIENCE DEVELOPMENT & CIRCULATION S. MEDIA INTERNATIONAL CORPORATION • P.O. BOX 15688, BEVERLY HILLS, CA 90209 • SUNSET.COM

Copyright ©2022 S. Media International Corporation. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. No responsibility is assumed for unsolicited submissions. Manuscripts, photographs, and other material submitted to P.O. Box 15688 Beverly Hills, CA 90209 can be acknowledged or returned only if accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope. For assistance with your Sunset subscription, call 1-800-777-0117.

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Shawn Byers

THOMAS J. STORY

SunsetMagazine



Coming Up Roses Add a rose-flavored twist to your cocktails with this California rosolio.

W

ith his mother’s summer rose bushes going crazy outside his childhood home in Berkeley, Robert Collier decided to experiment. Heading into the kitchen armed with years of restaurant experience and a diploma from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, he ended up with a Champagne and rose gellee. Complete with whipped cream swan profiteroles “swimming” on top, the gellee made it to a brunch in wine country. But that was just the beginning. Collier kept playing around with the blooms. The California native started incorporating roses into his cocktails, applying the same techniques he’d learned from other liqueurs. He remembers running “little distillates” and other “experiments” with single varieties to understand their impact on flavor. “Oh my god, this smells like the garden!” Collier said of his initial recipe. A rosolio was born. That was almost 10 years ago, and Collier continued to perfect his apéritif. The result is now on the shelves of shops and markets throughout the Golden State. Compared to the more well-known Italian liqueur amaro, Ortolan Rosolio is far from bitter, lighter on the palate, and, in this case, centered on roses. “With amaros, the focus is on packing a whole lot of flavor 6

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into the taste,” Collier says. “With rosolios, the emphasis is on creating something more ethereal, that impacts the olfactory more than the tongue.” About 30 varieties of heirloom garden roses go into the rosolio from Appanage Brands, co-founded by Collier and Amy Navor. The pair source flowers from farms in wine country near Santa Barbara and Sonoma, all boasting different flavors and colors and scents. “Our roses are the ‘seconds’ or ‘waste’ that our conscientious farmers don’t sell to the floral industry,” according to the duo. “We help them to minimize their waste, increase their farm’s productivity, and realize another source of income that makes them more competitive against conventional rose farmers.” Add a bottle of light pink Ortolan Rosolio to your bar cart and you’ll keep returning to its versatility. You can sip it neat over ice, with an orange twist or a sprig of mint. Pair it with lime juice and sparkling water, and watch it change color—from amber salmon to a brighter pink—due to the interplay between the acidity and rose pigments. “If you try to do beautiful things, then good things are going to come of it,” Collier says.

APPANAGE BRANDS

Story by KRI STI N SCHARKE Y


APPANAGE BRANDS

“The emphasis is on creating something more ethereal, that impacts the olfactory more than the tongue.”

How to Drink the Rosolio Ortolan Rosolio is a true modifier that can be added to any spirit, Collier says. Just don’t mix it with peaty scotch. “I really meant it to be something where you can take any spirit and a little citrus, or something acidic,” Collier adds, “mix them together, and have a really complex and delicious—but easy to make—drink.” For starters, try sparkling water and a good squeeze of lime. “People really like it in a spritz,” Collier says, though his favorite is with non-dosage Champagne. Craft a mezcal margarita with one ounce each of mezcal and Ortolan and three-quarters of an ounce of lime juice— plus a bar spoon of agave syrup, if that’s your thing. Or, you can take a martini approach, combining 1.5 ounces of dry gin and one ounce of Ortolan. Just don’t forget a green olive, Collier says. “We like to think it enhances classic cocktails, so think of something you like and try incorporating,” Collier says of the rosolio. “Bartenders are coming up with amazing things that I would never have thought of.” In Sebastopol, for example, Fern Bar serves an Ortolan cocktail called Hot Girl Summer, made with mezcal, guava, aloe, lemon, chia, hibiscus, jasmine, and cinnamon. “It’s amazing,” Collier says. In the winter, Collier combines equal parts pear brandy and Ortolan, stirred martini style and served with a sprig of fresh thyme. For an Old Fashioned, Collier uses bourbon instead of rye. “No need for a sugar cube or bitters unless you want the latter,” he adds, “served with an orange twist.” The team behind Ortolan has plenty of recipes on their website, but we’re sharing one with you here. Ortolan and Soda is a simple and light way to enjoy the apéritif. Cheers!

Ortolan and Soda 3 oz. Ortolan Rosolio 2 oz. club soda Lime juice

1. In a rocks glass, pour 3 oz. of Ortolan Rosolio over ice, add 2 oz. of club soda, and squeeze half a lime (or lemon) to top it off.

2. Stir to watch the drink transform! SPIRITS ISSUE 2021 • SUNSET

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Story by MAG DALE NA O ’ N EAL

Espresso martinis from the connoisseurs at La Colombe

Making a Comeback

I

Thanks to rising interest in at-home bartending—plus the constant need for caffeine—the espresso martini is getting a boost

was enjoying happy hour with some friends midweek at Soho Warehouse in Los Angeles when five o’clock rolled around and I started to get a case of the yawns. My first drink had been a glass of orange wine and I knew if I ordered another I would be headed home soon. So instead, I perused the cocktail menu before deciding on an espresso martini. My friends and I ordered a round of the coffee-based concoction, and then a second round, and by the bottom of our coupe glasses we were hooked (and wide awake). Since then I have become a serious fan of the drink and noticed them appearing on an increasing number of menus across the West. San Francisco bartender Sean Doolan says Thriller Social Club is serving up at least 200 espresso martinis each Friday night. “The pandemic started a rise in craft cocktails and everybody became a bartender at home or wanted to be able to pick up cocktails. That’s when the espresso-tini really took off,” Doolan says. “A lot of people used to order a vodka Red Bull, which isn’t as classy, and espresso martinis are a classic cocktail that acts as a pick-me-up and also tastes great.” 8

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It’s only right that my first experience with an espresso martini was at a Soho House, as the cocktail gained popularity decades ago in the Soho scene of New York City. Famous bartender Dick Bradsell created the drink in the 1980s. While the cocktail would be deemed an irrefutable classic, the late ’90s came and everyone in NYC started sipping Cosmos, leaving the espresso martini on the back burner. But that’s changed. “We noticed more and more bartenders serving this drink using our vodka,” says Abe Stevens, founder and distiller at Humboldt Distillery, which produces an organic vodka that pairs perfectly with espresso. “To be frank, more people these days are looking to get their caffeine fix throughout the day and not just the morning.” As makers in the craft coffee scene work alongside cocktail creatives to make superior versions of the drink, we can expect the trend to last beyond the decade this time. A high-quality combination of ingredients results in a drink that offers an energy boost, gentle flavor, and subtle sweetness that cocktail fans are eager to order again.

LA COLOMBE

Story by MAG DALE NA O ’ N EAL


Here are two modern takes on the classic:

Peach Feine Espresso Martini

LA COLOMBE

The coffee connoisseurs at La Colombe came up with their own variation of the newly popular espresso martini that combines their cold brew concentrate with stone fruit and citrus flavors. The concentrate is very strong and, when used for making cold brew, it is diluted to use one part concentrate with eight parts water. For this recipe, you’ll half the amount of water you would use if serving straight over ice for a stronger brew that will blend with the liquor.

4 oz. La Colombe Pure Black Concentrate (1:4 dilution) 2 oz. Peach Combier 2 oz. Grey Goose Vodka ½ oz. agave sweetener ½ oz. Grey Goose L’Orange

1. Combine all ingredients except for Grey Goose L’Orange in a shaker over ice. Shake to combine.

2. Add Grey Goose L’Orange to a martini glass and swirl around to coat the inside of the glass, discard remaining vodka.

3. Pour contents of shaker into glass and garnish with an orange peel.

A pair of Peach Feine Espresso Martinis

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Get Growing

here’s something so satisfying—romantic, even—about snipping something from the garden and muddling it into an herbaceous cocktail. But don’t just grow your own for the bragging rights. Adding freshly picked herbs gives a drink depth while tickling the nose with fresh notes that can’t be found elsewhere. “The most important thing about herbs, especially if you’re muddling them, is they add instantaneous flavor that you’re not going to get from a fruit,” says Matthew Biancaniello, chef and author of Eat Your Drink: Culinary Cocktails. “Herbs add a layer to the drink, and will never try to compete with the other flavors. It comes at the end with a nice, long finish.” Alex Jump, bar manager at the Denver location of the seminal bar Death & Co., agrees. “Herbs can add complexity to cocktails in two main ways,” she says. “As an aromatic, it tops the drink and perfumes the environment around it, and it acts as a flavoring agent when muddled into the liquid or allowed to steep. Think of the former as the mint topping a Julep, while the latter is mint muddled into a mojito.” Even better, adds Kelso Norris, the cocktail director of Genever, a lounge in Los Angeles’ Historic Filipinotown, “herbs are a great way to enhance flavor without adding sugar.” Amen to that.

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A cocktail herb garden can be easy to grow. In warmer climates, herbs can be kept in the garden year-round. In colder zones, they can be grown in a sunny spot indoors. (Extra credit if you are the sort of gardener who has a greenhouse.) Because we had access to some renowned cocktail experts, we went beyond some of the usual choices while planning what to plant or pot. All herbs are welcome, of course, but who can resist the chance to grow lemongrass at home and infuse it into London dry gin? Meanwhile, an arugula cocktail is what we call the best sort of green juice. One thing to keep in mind when you’re ready to start mixing: Herbs need a gentle hand. “If your herbs become bitter when introduced to a drink, you’re likely extracting chlorophyll from the leaves when muddling,” Jump says. “A favorite lesson in our bartender training is to take a mint leaf, add it to your tongue, and press to the roof of your mouth. It should be all mint—light and refreshing. Now move the mint leaf to the teeth and grind a little bit. Suddenly your mouth is awash in bitterness. The same logic can apply to muddling: Instead of breaking your herbs apart, simply use the heavy end of a muddler to press the leaves.” Now, how to create your own cocktail garden, so you can drink up your garden all fall long.

WESTEND61/GETTY IMAGES

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Story by D EAN NA KIZ I S

Indulge in some seriously delicious cocktails straight from your own garden.


Arugula

Fall is the perfect time to plant this cold-weather crop. Then you can muddle freshly picked leaves!

TO GROW:

Scatter seeds so they’re about a half inch apart in a raised bed or pot using well-drained potting soil. Choose a sunny to partly-shaded spot. Cover your arugula seeds with a quarter inch of soil and lightly sprinkle with water. While growing, be sure to keep soil moist. To grow arugula inside, follow the above instructions and keep your arugula in a sunny, south-facing window.

COCKTAIL: MIA WASILEVICH/COURTESY OF MATTHEW BIANCANIELLO; ARUGULA ILLUSTRATION: ©MARIIA SULTANOVA/DREAMSTIME.COM; GARDEN TOOL ILLUSTRATIONS THROUGHOUT: ©NAKEDCM/DREAMSTIME.COM

TO HARVEST:

Snip with sheers when leaves reach 4 to 6 inches tall, about 30 to 40 days after planting. Be sure not to pull the stems, or to harvest all the plants at once, so they can regrow for another harvest. Since arugula can grow bitter after it regrows a couple of times, try sowing new seeds every few weeks so you can get continuously palatable crops.

Roquette Cocktail

¾ oz. fresh lime juice, preferably from a Bearss lime

¾ oz. agave syrup

1 cup wild arugula, preferably rustic (syvletta)

2 oz. CapRock gin

Wild radish flowers or microarugula, for garnish

1. In a cocktail shaker, muddle the lime juice, agave, and arugula, then add the gin and ice.

2. Shake, then strain into a rocks glass filled with ice and garnish with wild radish flowers or micro arugula. SPIRITS ISSUE 2021 • SUNSET

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TO GROW:

Buy stalks, then trim them to about 3 inches, while peeling off any outer growth that looks unhappy. Place the stalks in a glass of water and put that on a sunny windowsill. (Make sure your glass isn’t full—you only need the bottom of the stalks to be submerged.) Once your stalks have rooted, plant them in well-draining potting soil. Keep your pot outside if you live in a warm climate, or inside in a sunny window if you don’t. Water regularly.

Lemongrass

Lemongrass plays well with other flavors, plus the smell is incredibly soothing. Head to a well-stocked Asian grocery store to purchase.

TO HARVEST:

Harvest your lemongrass when your stalk is about 1 foot high. Be careful as the leaves can be cutyour-finger sharp. For use, cut the bottom two-thirds of the stalk, where it is flesh-like, not woody. Use the cuttings in a gin cocktail made by Norris at Genever.

Get Tanglad

1½ oz. Lemongrass Gin (recipe below)

½ oz. Carpano Bianco (any dry vermouth will also do)

½ oz. Amaro Angeleno (you can works nicely)

Pinch of salt

To make lemongrass gin: 1. Clean and cut up 3 stalks of lemongrass into 4-inch strips and add to a 750 ml. bottle of London Dry Gin in an airtight container. Stir and cover.

2. Let sit for 1 hour then refrigerate overnight (8-10 hours).

3. Strain and store in gin bottle in the fridge when not in use.

To make cocktail:

1. Add all ingredients to a mixing glass filled with ice and stir well.

2. Strain into a chilled coupe and garnish with lemongrass.

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COCKTAIL: BRADLEY TUCK; LEMONGRASS ILLUSTRATION: ©MARIIA SULTANOVA/ DREAMSTIME.COM

also substitute Suze, or Aperol


Rosemary As any gardener in Southern California and Texas knows, you can grow rosemary in a frost-free zone.

TO GROW:

Be sure to plant yours in an easterly spot or it could get too much sun. Water when soil is dry. In colder climates, rosemary can be tricky to grow indoors as it doesn’t like “wet feet,” but it doesn’t like dry leaves either. Don’t be deterred. Before potting the herb in well-drained potting soil, add gravel at the bottom so the roots won’t sit in water, then place your plant in a sunny window. Water every two weeks or so, when the soil is dry. If your rosemary starts to dry out, mist the foliage with water once or twice a week.

TO HARVEST:

After picking, try your hand at making this reimagined cocktail.

Rosemary Tonic

2 oz. rosemary-infused gin (recipe COCKTAIL: BRADLEY TUCK; ROSEMARY ILLUSTRATION: ©AWISPA/DREAMSTIME.COM

below)

1 oz. grapefruit juice (you can substitute any other juice)

3 oz. Fever Tree tonic water.

To make rosemary gin: 1. Rinse and remove the leaves from 4 stalks of rosemary and add them to an airtight container with one standard bottle of gin.

2. Stir and let sit for 1 hour, then store in refrigerator for 12 hours.

3. Strain and bottle; keep in refrigerator.

To make cocktail: 1. Combine ingredients in a Collins glass filled with ice.

2. Garnish with a rosemary sprig or citrus twist. SPIRITS ISSUE 2021 • SUNSET

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“Thai basil has a distinct anise flavor that works great with the heavy dose of absinthe.”

Thai Basil Thai basil can be grown year-round in warm climates, but unlike, say, sweet basil, it’s a great choice to grow indoors because it’s heartier than its brethren.

TO GROW:

If inside, place your potted plant in an indoor window that gets six hours of direct sunlight a day, or use a grow light. If it isn’t thriving, your soil may be too dense, so add vermiculite or pearlite to improve drainage. Water Thai basil when the soil becomes dry, and don’t forget to feed your plant with organic fertilizer every six to eight weeks.

Stay Mum

3 Thai basil leaves

2½ oz. Dolin dry vermouth ½ oz. Bénédictine

1 tsp. Cyril Zangs 00 apple cide eau-de-vie

4 dashes absinthe

Lemon twist, for garnish

1. In a shaker, gently muddle the basil.

2. Add the remaining ingredients except the lemon twist and shake with ice.

3. Double strain into a chilled Nick & Nora glass. Express the lemon twist over the drink, then place it in the drink.

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REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION FROM DEATH & CO WELCOME HOME BY ALEX DAY, NICK FAUCHALD, AND DAVID KAPLAN, COPYRIGHT (C) 2021. PUBLISHED BY TEN SPEED PRESS, A DIVISION OF PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE, LLC. PHOTOGRAPH COPYRIGHT © DYLAN + JENI; THAI BASIL ILLUSTRATION: ©HELENLANE/DREAMSTIME.COM

TO HARVEST:

Use the leaves in the “Stay Mum” cocktail courtesy of Death & Co.


Shiitake Mushrooms Not an herb, but let’s face it: we had to get shroomy. Everyone else is doing it!

TO GROW:

Use an inoculated mushroom log. The white fibers that will appear are called hyphae, and absorb nutrients. (In other words, they’re not mold.) Mushrooms will begin to appear in four to 10 days.

TO HARVEST:

Shiitakes can be harvested just after the gills are exposed. Remove them with a sharp knife, just be sure to cut flush to the log. Then try this cocktail from Biancello.

Shiitake Mushroom Cocktail COCKTAIL: MIA WASILEVICH/COURTESY OF MATTHEW BIANCANIELLO; MUSHROOMS ILLUSTRATION: ©DIANA PRYADIEVA/DREAMSTIME.COM

2 oz. mushroom-infused bourbon (recipe below)

½ oz. Cynar

½ oz. CapRock bitter

To make the infused bourbon: 1. Place 2 oz. fresh shiitake mush-

rooms in a quart-size jar and pour in 1 bottle of Basil Hayden’s bourbon. Cover and set aside in a cool, dark place to infuse for 5 days. The flavor should be good and strong by then.

2. Strain the bourbon back into the bottle. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.

To make the cocktail: 1. Pour the mushroom-infused

bourbon, Cynar, and bitter into a mixing glass with ice.

2. Stir, then strain into a cordial glass.

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ROAD TRIP, ON THE ROCKS Join us on a trip up the coast to discover the best libations that local bartenders have to offer. Story by SU N S ET STAFF Photographs by TH O MAS J. STO RY

From left: Chef Brady Ishiwata Williams, chef de cuisine Diana Mata García, and pastry chef Richard Garci 16

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Seattle, Washington James Beard Award-winning chef Brady Ishiwata Williams pays tribute to his Japanese grandmother at restaurant Tomo, where all things plant, piscine, and Pacific Northwest shine. Here’s a cocktail that takes Tomo over the top.

Miss Nick

This pink and frothy drink gets its richness from egg whites and its fruit flavor from tayberries, a hybrid of blackberry and red raspberry. If you can’t find

tayberries, substitute a blend of blackberries and raspberries.

MAKES 1 COCKTAIL 2 cups sugar 1 cup water

1 pint tayberries

1¾ oz. apple brandy

½ oz. tayberry syrup ½ oz. lemon juice ¼ oz. lime juice 1 egg white

Magnolia flower, for garnish To make the tayberry syrup:

1. Combine sugar and 1 cup water in a saucepan, and cook over low heat until dissolved.

2.. Add tayberries, raise heat and simmer for 5 minutes. 3. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and chill. To make the cocktail:

1. In a cocktail shaker, dry shake all ingredients but

the garnish for 5 seconds. (“Dry shake” is bartenderspeak for shaking a drink without ice.)

2. Add ice to shaker and shake vigorously for 20 seconds.

3. Strain into a chilled Nick and Nora glass. 4. Garnish with magnolia flower and serve.

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Seattle, Washington Garlic, pork, and a new nostalgia are on the menu at Melissa Miranda’s restaurant, Musang. Here’s how to bring that magic formula into your glass.

Tatlo Cocktail

Lychee liqueur anchors this drink in the tropics, while tequila and Peychaud’s bitters add a Pan-American vibe. Feel free to substitute

passion fruit liqueur, which works just as well. MAKES 1 COCKTAIL 1 dash Peychaud’s bitters ½ oz. Giffard curaçao ½ oz. lemon juice

½ oz. lychee liqueur

1½ oz. tequila Orange peel 1. In a mixing glass, stir all ingredients with ice.

2. Strain into a coupe glass.

3. Garnish with orange peel. Enjoy!

Melissa Miranda (right) serves up excellent expressions of Filipino comfort food at Musang in Seattle.

Rory (left) and Meave McAuliffe

Ojai, California Sisters Rory and Meave McAuliffe are behind the widely anticipated new California restaurant Rory’s Place, situated in an old theater on the western edge of the tiny town’s main drag.

Not an Adonis

Among the sisters’ low-alcohol offerings, this is their answer to a Manhattan, “smooth and refined, but using a mix of aromatized wines.” Rich simple sugar is two parts sugar to one part water, which “adds texture rather than flavor, but any lingering sweetness is cut by Amaro Sfumato’s deep, bitter woodsmoke.”

MAKES 1 COCKTAIL

1 ½ oz. oloroso sherry 1 oz. Dolin Rouge

½ oz. Byrrh Quinquina ¼ oz. Amaro Sfumato

1 bar spoon rich simple sugar 1. Stir all ingredients well with ice, then strain into a chilled coupe.

2. Garnish with an expressed

orange twist.

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Los Angeles, California Enrique Olvera, one of the best Mexican chefs on the planet, is behind Damian, a breezy open-air restaurant in Southern California. Peak-season produce stars in surprisingly simple, stunning delicious tacos and tamales, plus cocktails to match.

Smoked Highball

Calling all homegrown craft cocktailians: This drink depends on the quality of the ingredients. With a high-quality whiskey and pine-infused liqueur, the earthiness of the spirit is accentuated. As you sip, you inhale the oils releasing into the glass from the garnish of fresh eucalyptus. MAKES 1 COCKTAIL 1½ cups Zirbenz Stone Pine Liqueur (available at astorwines.com)

1 Tbsp. Lapsang Souchong tea leaves ¾ oz. Suntory Toki Whiskey

¾ oz. Empirical Spirits Charlene McGee (available at astorwines.com)

2 oz. club soda

Fresh eucalyptus sprig, for garnish 1. Combine Zirbenz Pine Liqueur

with Lapsang Souchong tea leaves in a small bowl and allow to steep at room temperature for 30 minutes. Strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve and transfer to a jar or bottle to store.

2. Fill a shaker with ice and

add 3⁄4 oz. each of infused pine liqueur, whiskey, and Charlene McGee. Shake gently just to bring ingredients to temperature, about 4 seconds.

3. Strain into a highball glass

over ice, top with club soda,

From left: Damian chef Chuy Cervantes, general manager Ana Odermatt, and beverage manager Jun Kwon

and garnish with a sprig of fresh eucalyptus.

4. Garnish with magnolia flower

and serve.

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Sober Curious Botanical spirits are getting better—that means nonalcoholic cocktails are, too.

OPTIMIST

Story by KRI STI N SCHARKE Y AN D MAG DALE NA O ’ N EAL

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eth O’Malley’s basement is stocked with hundreds of tins and jars and airtight bags, each one filled with an aromatic plant sample. There’s white peppercorn and cardamom, clove and patchouli, plus some raw extracts not yet permitted for food consumption in the United States. It’s all part of the Portland distiller’s growing botanical library, or really laboratory, that lends itself to highly crafted nonalcoholic spirits. Together with Oregon liquor veteran Brad Whiting, O’Malley is behind a line of spirits called Wilderton that stands out among a growing number of booze-free spirit brands. These one-of-a-kind distillates are made to elevate your cocktail game—whether you drink or not—as the botanical combinations add a range of flavors, from floral aromas to herbaceous, earthy notes. While some in the zero-proof space seek to create substitutes for widely known alcoholic spirits (think Monday gin, Ritual rum, or Lyre’s American malt), this second type of product exists in a category all its own. Symphonic examples like Wilderton are being used in a wide range of cocktails, though they can also just be poured over ice and savored on their own. As more people make the decision to drink less—or not at all—you may start seeing more of them on the shelves at your local bottle shop, or on the menu at restaurants and bars. 22

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“The broader vision here is just to create a new category of spirits that just happens to be nonalcoholic,” says Whiting, Wilderton’s CEO who traveled the globe for 14 years, sourcing spirits for Oregon’s Hood River Distillers. It’s all part of the evolution of modern cocktailing, Whiting adds, a concept that’s continuing to grow into “a full spectrum, from no- to low- to medium-alcohol” drinks. You can find a bevy of options from Western brands that are pioneering this new tradition. Los Angeles-based Optimist is crafting nonalcoholic botanical spirits inspired by the landscapes of Southern California. Popular spirits brand AMASS now crafts a nonalcoholic bottle called Riverine that’s made with botanicals you might see in gin—coriander, orris root, and juniper, for example— but it is “not a gin proxy,” as the team writes on their website. “Rather, it is a nuanced, sophisticated spirit in its own right.” While there’s much to be said around the sober-curious movement sweeping the West, Whiting says his broader goals center on “making cocktails more interesting.” “It’s not a binary [alcoholic] or non-[alcoholic] conversation to me,” he continues. “It’s about the spectrum. You don’t have to choose to quit to have a new relationship with alcohol.”

AMARETT JANS

Portland distiller Seth O’Malley is creating a growing library of plant samples. Opposite page: A cocktail made with Wilderton’s botanical spirit


KATE SCHWAGER

Et Evercima gnatus apient quam quas alicia delit hicia SPIRITS ISSUE 2021 • SUNSET

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WHAT’S IN BOTANICAL SPIRITS? Botanical spirits can range in flavor depending on the types of plants used. The team at Optimist utilizes ingredients commonly found growing around Los Angeles, like fennel, rosemary, thyme, basil, and more. “We didn’t definitely didn’t want to replace alcohol with other ingredients that aren’t great for mind or body,” say founders Lisa and Tommy Johnstone. “Each different botanical flavor has an important note to play in this particular symphony.” Between 10 and 16 botanicals are used in each Optimist expression, 24

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which are aptly named Fresh, Smokey and Bright. All are free of alcohol as well as sugar, additives, and unnatural flavorings. The Johnstones wanted their organic ingredients “to sing a capella,” as they say. There are also no flavorings in Wilderton’s two spirits, which include the more herb-driven Earthen and citrus-focused Lustre; it’s all raw botanicals from across the globe. “Really good Spirits have a certain balance and a certain way that they unfold on the palate,” says O’Malley, who looks to perfumery as a “rigorous way to think about flavor composition.” To understand how the Wilderton team chooses its ingredients, you first need to know how they make these spirits. They steep botanicals in

OPTIMIST

Cocktails made with Optimist’s botanical spirits. Opposite page: A cold-brew coffee cocktail made with Wilderton


TOP RIGHT: JORDAN HUGHES

HOW TO USE BOTANICAL SPIRITS

an herbal tea that is then distilled in a cylindrical still, which burns at a lower temperature than those used for extended alcohol distillation. Because these botanicals are more delicate, they need to be preserved without being burned. “A lot of the ingredients that we landed on are ones that you don’t see so often in traditional spirits,” O’Malley says. That’s because the Wilderton team is choosing those they feel can be extracted well with water, like rose petals and lemongrass, says O’Malley, a former tea barista turned founding distiller at the nowshuttered Townshend’s Distillery. “Every ingredient is its own potpourri,” the founder adds.

While the Wilderton founders were never interested in creating boozefree imitations of alcoholic spirits—“trying to make an OK copy of something that has a long tradition was never of interest to either,” Whiting says—they did approach their two expressions with cultural reference points in mind. “Lustre, which is bright and light and floral, is going to fit more in a clear spirit,” Whiting explains, “like a vodka or a gin occasion.” Though, he adds, it’s not “not at all intended to taste like that.” Earthen, on the other hand, boasts deep spice notes and smoke. “While not in any way trying to be a whiskey or an aged spirit, [it] will often play very well in that same type of occasion,” Whiting says. The Wilderton website is chock full of recipe ideas, from Earthy Beet, which pairs Earthen with beet and lemon juices plus ginger-honey syrup, to Rise and Shine On, featuring a cold-brew coffee base complemented by Earthen, cinnamon-infused simple syrup, orange bitters, and creamer. Your at-home mixologist move could be as simple as adding equal parts lemonade. Over at Optimist, the Johnstones describe their spirits as “fluid in every sense,” the couple says. “People can create great non-alcoholic cocktails with them, but they work beautifully in low-alc creations, and even as an ingredient to improve on a standard cocktail.” Fresh combines juniper berry and cilantro with lime peels, oregano, and more to create a gin-like sip. While Smokey uses ingredients like lapsang souchong (a tea with a naturally slightly smokey and sweet flavor profile), bitter red-orange, clove, geranium, habanero, and a handful of other botanicals to support or substitute expressions like mezcal or tequila. Whether you’re all-in, slowing down your drinking, or just looking to experiment, we collected some recipes to help you start crafting your own unique botanical cocktails. SPIRITS ISSUE 2021 • SUNSET

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CAMP COCKT Story by Kristin Sch arkey Photographs by Th o m as J. Sto r y

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TAILS Set up a movable mixology kit that will turn any campsite into a pop-up al fresco bar.

Story by KRI STI N SCHARKE Y Photographs by TH O MAS J. STO RY

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You don’t need more than a few ingredients to make delicious camp cocktails that are as flavorful as they are easy to tote around. So, we asked a trio of our favorite spirit makers in the West for their favorite recipes. Then we headed to an Airstream at the new AutoCamp Joshua Tree to craft them in the great outdoors. Dana Rodriguez

New Old Oaxacan

James Beard-nominated chef Dana Rodriguez is behind Coloradobased Doña Loca’s mezcals and tequilas. For her newly opened Denver restaurant Cantina Loca, beverage manager Nicole Rezner created this cocktail with simple syrup and bitters, but here added a few more ingredients to help us create a pre-batched version. “Our Espadín mezcal has a smooth, rich mouthfeel,” Rodriguez says, “which makes it excellent to use in unfussy cocktails like this one.” MAKES ABOUT 12 COCKTAILS 1 bottle Doña Loca Espadín Mezcal Peels of 4 lemons

1 whole piece piloncillo

(Mexican brown cane sugar) 4 cinnamon sticks

1 oz. Angostura bitters

camping trip, pour the bottle of Espadín into a container and add lemon peels, piloncillo, cinnamon sticks, and bitters. Seal, and let sit overnight. The sugar should completely dissolve. 2. The next morning, strain the mezcal into a large bowl or pitcher, and pour back into the bottle or another vessel. Then you have a ready made batch of cocktails!

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RODRIGUEZ: JONI SCHRANTZ

1. The night before leaving for a


Ryan Lawrence, Clare Byrne, and Thomas Giddings

Desert Bloom

Ryan Lawrence, Clare Byrne, and Thomas Giddings handcraft Suncliffe gin as an ode to Arizona. They also sell pre-made cocktail kits (like this one) that are perfect for an overnight camping trip. “Compared to a lot of gins on the market today, Suncliffe does not have a strong citrusy note,” Lawrence says. “We did this on purpose for two reasons, which are to really highlight the wild harvested ingredients, and because fresh citrus is always available to add as a juice or garnish.” MAKES 1 COCKTAIL 2 oz. Suncliffe gin

1 oz. Iconic Grapefruit Fleur de Sel ½ oz. Iconic Prickly Pear Sour Seltzer (optional)

Ruby-red grapefruit wedge, salted 1. Add ice to an 8 oz. rocks glass, or a Collins glass if you

plan to use seltzer.

2. Pour gin over ice. Add Fleur de Sel and Prickly Pear

Sour, and stir.

3. If using seltzer, top off the cocktail with a small pour.

4. Garnish with a dehydrated ruby red grapefruit wedge.

TANABE: NOVA BREWING CO.; TOP RIGHT: SUNCLIFFE

Attraction

Nova Brewing Co.’s James Jin and Emiko Tanabe are crafting a true California sake at their outpost and brewery in Covina. While the beverage is “normally enjoyed straight, like a fine wine,” the team created a special cocktail recipe with watermelon cubes to “complement the delicate flavor,” says Shinobu Adams, director of sales and marketing.

Emiko Tanabe

MAKES 1 COCKTAIL 2 oz. watermelon, cut into 5-6 1-inch cubes

2 oz. Nova Brewing Co. Gravity sake

2 mint leaves, torn into small pieces, and one sprig for garnish

1. Add watermelon cubes

to a rocks glass, then pour the sake over them. 2. Add the torn mint leaves and stir 2-3 times. 3. Add crushed ice and stir 2-3 times again. 4. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

Snow Peak’s titanium Bartender Set is perfect for sipping sake. It comes with a bottle, cups, measuring spoon, and stacking mug. $331; SNOWPEAK.COM

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Nova Brewing Co. head brewer and co-founder James Jin

THE ART OF SAKE Story by Kristin Sch arkey

Photographs by Th o m as J. Sto r y

Meet the makers radically transforming this drink. Story by NAVPRE ET D H I LLO N

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NOVA BREWING CO.

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W

est Coast brewers are making sake more food-friendly than ever. The traditional, rice-based alcoholic beverage has been brewed for thousands of years in Japan. But sake breweries are spawning on the West Coast, particularly across California and Oregon in recent years. In an attempt to simultaneously honor traditional sake-making and also introduce innovative methods, these brewers are creating their own spin by sourcing local ingredients and adding unique regional flavors. to a wine-drinking audience. “What I discovered was that Americans, for the most part, unlike these other categories like wine or beer or spirits, think of sake as very Japanese specific,” says SakéOne president and CEO Steve Vuylsteke. Instead of being viewed as a drink to enjoy every day with dinner, sake, to many, is something primarily consumed at restaurants, often with Japanese foods like sushi, Vulysteke notes. But West Coast brewers are on a mission to educate consumers about how much more sake can be.

Clockwise from top right: A cocktail made with SakéOne’s Momokawa style; Nova Brewing Co.’s Gravity sake; SakéOne Toji/ Master Brewer Takumi Kuwabara 32

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CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM RIGHT: NOVA BREWING CO.; KATHRYN ELSESSER PHOTOGRAPHY/COURTESY OF SAKÉONE; COURTESY OF SAKÉONE

“It’s been hard for the whole sake industry to grow in America,” says James Jin, head brewer and co-founder of Nova Brewing Co. in Southern California. “First of all, people have a misconception of what it is because a lot of cheaply made sake have been imported, most of which have a more alcoholic taste. Modern brewers, we’re trying to clarify what sake is and how we drink it more like a fine wine.” Sake makers face the challenge of not only modifying the brewing method to fit West Coast ingredients, but also marketing it


Clockwise from top right: SakéOne rice is steamed; a view of rice fields grown by Chico Executive Group partner John Thompson; SakéOne sake is enjoyed from bottles and cans.

Calrose Rice

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: @LADYBALTAZAR/COURTESY OF SAKÉONE; COURTESY OF SAKÉONE; COURTESY OF SEQUOIA SAKE; JOHN THOMPSON

Sequoia Sake Rice

RIPE FOR RICE CULTIVATION The West is home to the best sake rice outside of Japan, making it an ideal region to craft what Vuylsteke calls “one of the purest forms of alcoholic beverages in the market.” Based in Oregon, SakéOne was the first major sake producer in the U.S. and has since become a leading brewery with five distinct sakes. Sake is made from just four ingredients: rice, water, koji, and yeast. “Since it’s so simple in the number of ingredients, it means each ingredient needs to be perfect,” Vuylsteke says. Grown primarily in California’s Sacramento region, calrose rice is known by brewers as the best alternative to Japanese-grown sake rice. It’s a descendant of the yamada nishiki variety, a rice often used in Japanese sake. John W. Thompson, partner and grower of Chico Executive Group in the Sacramento Valley, is one of few farmers in the U.S. who grow sake-grade rice. Because the crop requires such a specific environment, rice growers are often unwilling to risk a low yield, or sometimes even a failed season. So, some farmers took whatever pure calrose they could grow and combined it with other varieties, Thompson explains. “Before Thompson, we couldn’t figure out what we were missing,” Vuylsteke says. “We had perfected our recipe, but the rice we sourced wasn’t all calrose.” SakéOne now exclusively sources rice through Thompson, and Vuylsteke credits his company’s success to the highquality product. SPIRITS ISSUE 2021 • SUNSET

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“Modern brewers, we’re trying to clarify what sake is and how we drink it more like a fine wine.” —James Jin, head brewer and co-founder

COURTESY OF SEQUOIA SAKE

of Nova Brewing Co.

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TO ENJ

HO

W

OY SAK

Opposite page: Sequoia Sake. This page: SakéOne sake can be enjoyed alongside seafood (top) and sushi (bottom).

E COUNTERCLOCKWISE FROM TOP RIGHT: @WENTHETRAVELBEGINS/COURTESY OF SAKÉONE; @JESTEEICEDTEA/COURTESY OF SAKÉONE; @VLADISLAVA .DYECHEVA/COURTESY OF SAKÉONE

WATER MAKES A DIFFERENCE Beyond rice, Jin says the biggest difference between West Coast and Japanese sakes is the water. Most of the water used in Japanese sakes is soft; even the regions considered to produce hard water are softer than American water, especially water sourced from the West Coast. Hard water contains more minerals, especially calcium, making a healthier and drier fermentation that gives you a richer mouth feel. “Our particular style has higher acidity and more sweetness than traditional Japanese sake, which leads to more umami and fruitiness,” says Jin, who also crafts sakes with calrose rice. West Coast sake makers are also experimenting with flavor. Jake Myrick, head brewer and co-founder of Sequoia Sake in San Francisco, created a California Sake Collection in which he channeled the region’s reputation for making great wine. Traditionally, sake is brewed in stainless steel tanks without additional ingredients, but Myrick aged it in used wine barrels to bring in new flavors. For instance, Sequoia’s Rosé sake was aged in red wine barrels previously used for Napa-based winery Matthiasson’s Cabernet Sauvignon. Sequoia’s Blanc sake was aged in French oak barrels used for Matthiasson’s Chardonnay. To take these infusions a step further, Myrick also incorporates jalapeños as an homage to California’s massive pepper agriculture industry. He buys fresh peppers then roasts, de-seeds, and de-skins them before placing them in the sake for three to five weeks, which allows the flavor to seep into the sake with just the right amount of heat. “The Bay Area has a long tradition with fermentation and food, so it makes perfect sense we should incorporate wine barrels and jalapeño peppers into our sake,” Myrick says.

West Coast sake brewers want to emphasize the beverage’s malleability. While an incompatible food and wine pairing can lead to a “gastronomic disaster” in your mouth, “you don’t need to be nearly so concerned with how you’re pairing sake with the right entree,” Vuylsteke says. You can experiment with pairing sake with different cuisines like Italian, Indian, American, and more. Jin emphasizes that all sake should be served chilled in a white wine glass, not a traditional shot glass. “Sake contains more alcohol than wine, but that doesn’t make it a liquor,” he says, adding that it should not be served warm. Some restaurants serve it as such to mask the strong alcoholic taste, especially when the sake is cheaply made, Jin explains. West Coast brewers aim to dispel that idea and prove that high-quality sake tastes best when chilled or over ice. SPIRITS ISSUE 2021 • SUNSET

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Made in small batches in the California Sierra Nevada

d, Fragrant , Fl avor e c n a l a B , n ful.” “ C l ea

GOLD MEDAL WINNER!

92 POINTS

Anorak Liquor SILVER MEDAL WINNER!

Vapor Infused Gin SILVER MEDAL WINNER!

Vodka

SILVER MEDAL WINNER!

hinterhausdistilling.com


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O in the West, and each year we host It’s a wonderful wide, wide world of spirits the Sunset International Spirits Competition to steer you to bottles worth seeking out. We assembled an esteemed panel of judges and tasted our way through hundreds of bottles that collectively represent what’s being distilled throughout the West and beyond. Whether it’s whiskey, bourbon, rum, liqueur, or gin, one and all they embody what spirits lovers want most: incredible flavor, the highest production standards, and, above all, deliciousness. Cheers to the winners! Judges Timo Marshall, owner and head distiller at Spirit Works, Sonoma, California Spreti Valente, sommelier, buyer and consultant Ziggy Eschliman, radio and TV host, blogger, the contessa of cocktails Jason Schneider, general manager, Bottle Barn, chief spirit buyer Larry VanAalst, sommelier, radio host, The Sonoma Report, CRN radio Traci Dutton, educator, sommelier CIA at Greystone, Napa, California Jason Jorgensen, co-founder and head distiller Alley 6 Chris Sawyer, sommelier to the stars, radio and TV personality Jennifer Kelly, sommelier, consultant, and spirit expert SPIRITS ISSUE 2021 • SUNSET

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O in the West, and each year we host It’s a wonderful wide, wide world of spirits the Sunset International Spirits Competition to steer you to bottles worth seeking out. We assembled an esteemed panel of judges and tasted our way through hundreds of bottles that collectively represent what’s being distilled throughout the West and beyond. Whether it’s whiskey, bourbon, rum, liqueur, or gin, one and all they embody what spirits lovers want most: incredible flavor, the highest production standards, and, above all, deliciousness. Cheers to the winners! Judges Timo Marshall, owner and head distiller at Spirit Works, Sonoma, California Spreti Valente, sommelier, buyer and consultant Ziggy Eschliman, radio and TV host, blogger, the contessa of cocktails Jason Schneider, general manager, Bottle Barn, chief spirit buyer Larry VanAalst, sommelier, radio host, The Sonoma Report, CRN radio Traci Dutton, educator, sommelier CIA at Greystone, Napa, California Jason Jorgensen, co-founder and head distiller Alley 6 Chris Sawyer, sommelier to the stars, radio and TV personality Jennifer Kelly, sommelier, consultant, and spirit expert

Proudly awarded a Gold medal in the 2022 Sunset International Spirits Competition

We donate 5% of our gross profit to clean ocean and safe water initiatives.

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GOTHICGIN.COM @GOTHIC_GIN #LIFTYOURSPIRIT


Congratulations to This Year’s Sunset Spirits Award Winners GOLD MEDAL AND ABOVE WINNERS (IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER) Barr Hill Tom Cat Gin Award: Double Gold Score: 95 Tasting Notes: Vanilla and a mixed spice bag. Bold, large, and at the same time, tame. A gin that beckons to you! Barr Hill Barr Hill Vodka Award: Gold Score: 91 Tasting Notes: Warm subtle notes. Smooth and comfortable. A very pleasant spirit. Barr Hill Barr Hill Gin Award: Gold Score: 93 Tasting Notes: A soft ocean breeze that turns into a maverick’s wave! Perfectly blended and balanced. Barrel Brothers Brewing Company Sonoma Bramble Award: Best RTD (Ready to Drink) Score: 94 Tasting Notes: Gold/BOC; fresh fruit forward; balanced.

Bendistillery Crater Lake Spirits Black Butte Whiskey Award: Double Gold / Best of Class Score: 98 Tasting Notes: Sweet and soft like your first love; some earthy notes. Olive and tea; lingering cacao on the palate. Bendistillery Crater Lake Spirits Hazelnut Espresso Vodka Award: Gold Score: 90 Tasting Notes: Caramel, syrupy, mid-palate natural sweetness. Bently Heritage Estate Distillery Source One Single Estate Vodka, Wheat & Oat Blend Award: Gold Score: 90 Tasting Notes: Nice freshness on nose; clean. Blue Spirits Distilling Tommy Bahama Cucumber Vodka Award: Double Gold /

Best of Class - Vodka Infused/Flavored Score: 96 Tasting Notes: Big bold; super clean. Blue Spirits Distilling Tommy Bahama Rye Award: Double Gold / Best of Class - Whiskey Score: 98 Tasting Notes: Persimmons on the nose. Hint of sweetness; pine; very aromatic. Buglisi Recobs Group LLC Misunderstood Whiskey Company Ginger Spiced Whiskey Award: Gold Score: 93 Tasting Notes: Restrained, natural, some ginger flavor, heat and sweetness. Bundaberg Brewed Drinks Bundaberg Ginger Beer Award: Gold / Best of Class Non-Alcoholic Mixer Score: 90 Tasting Notes: Fresh ginger. Not too sweet.

Casa Capistrano Blanco Award: Gold Score: 92 Tasting Notes: White chocolate, white pepper spice, long finish, sweet. Cierto Spirits Inc. Cierto Tequila Reserve Collection Extra Añejo Award: Gold / Best of Class Score: 94 Tasting Notes: Nice finish, pink peppercorn, cherry chocolate. Cierto Spirits Inc. Cierto Tequila Private Collection - Blanco Award: Gold / Best of Class Score: 94 Tasting Notes: Classic, seamless, white pepper, baked apple. Cierto Spirits Inc. Cierto Tequila Highland Collection Reposado Award: Gold Score: 92 Tasting Notes: White sage, vanilla thyme. SPIRITS ISSUE 2021 • SUNSET

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Cierto Spirits Inc. Cierto Tequila Private Collection - Añejo Award: Gold Score: 94 Tasting Notes: White pepper, chocolate, vanilla, stewed plus approachable.

Cutwater Spirits Cutwater Mild Bloody Mary Award: Gold Score: 91 Tasting Notes: Can see the spice in the mix. Classic black pepper, celery salt. Respectable as cocktail.

Cutwater Spirits Cutwater Barrel Aged Rum Award: Double Gold / Best of Class - Rum Score: 96 Tasting Notes: Little caramel, linen, dynamic gold, woodshaving and toast, nice viscosity and sweetness.

Cutwater Spirits Cutwater Mango Margarita Award: Gold Score: 91 Tasting Notes: Fruit forward, tropical, balanced.

Cutwater Spirits Cutwater Tequila Reposado Award: Double Gold / Best of Class - Tequila Score: 98 Tasting Notes: Lovely spice, pepper, jam, dried fig, layers. Cutwater Spirits Cutwater Tequila Añejo Award: Double Gold / Best of Class Score: 98 Tasting Notes: Sassy, sexy, salubrious, spicy, vanilla, dried fig. Cutwater Spirits Cutwater Spicy Bloody Mary Award: Gold Score: 90 Tasting Notes: Nice spice level. Cutwater Spirits Tiki Rum Punch Award: Gold Score: 90 Tasting Notes: Balanced fun, fresh, fruity.

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Cutwater Spirits Cutwater Strawberry Margarita Award: Gold Score: 92 Tasting Notes: Strawberry cheesecake. Cutwater Spirits Cutwater Bali Hai Tiki Dark Rum Award: Gold Score: 93 Tasting Notes: Caramel, maple, hint of sweetness. Dented Brick Distillery Moon’s Best Bottled in Bond Straight Rye Whiskey Award: Gold Score: 92 Tasting Notes: Lush and rich. Finishes with slight sweetness and smoke. Distillers Way LLC. Doc Swinson’s Alter Ego Triple Cask Bourbon Award: Double Gold / Best of Class Score: 95 Tasting Notes: Toasty, nice body.

Distillers Way LLC. Doc Swinson’s Blender’s Cut Thirty Six Twenty One Award: Gold Score: 92 Tasting Notes: Toast with a little vanilla baking spices on palette. Nice body, lingering heat with hints of cinnamon. Don Vicente Tequila Extra Añejo Award: Gold Score: 93 Tasting Notes: Spunky, sassy, pepper, smoky. E.& J. Gallo Winery RumHaven Coconut Rum Award: Gold / Best of Class Score: 94 Tasting Notes: Sometimes you feel like a nut; reminds me of Mounds. Nice toasted coconut flavor. Sweet. Good aroma. E.& J. Gallo Winery Familia Camarena Tequila Añejo Award: Double Gold Score: 95 Tasting Notes: Layered, balanced spice on midpalate, vanilla. E.& J. Gallo Winery E&J Distillers XO Award: Gold Score: 91 Tasting Notes: Caramel, vanilla, nutty, molasses. E.& J. Gallo Winery High Noon Hard Seltzer Mango

Award: Gold Score: 92 Tasting Notes: Great nose; great aromatics; refreshing, clean, lasting flavor. E.& J. Gallo Winery Familia Camarena Tequila Silver/Plato Award: Gold Score: 92 Tasting Notes: Great texture, peppermint, rose. E.& J. Gallo Winery Familia Camarena Tequila Reposado Award: Gold Score: 93 Tasting Notes: Crushed herbs, with hints of citrus and spice. Gothic Gin Award: Gold Score: 93 Tasting Notes: Dry spice and coriander. Heritage Distilling Company Cocoa Bomb Chocolate Whiskey Award: Double Gold / Best Whiskey - Infused/ Flavored Score: 97 Tasting Notes: Dynamic chocolate, nice finish, s’mores. High Bank Distillery Co. Whiskey War Double Oaked Award: Gold / Best of Class Score: 92 Tasting Notes: Cinnamon and baking spice, green apple, easy, soft, very welcoming.


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High Bank Distillery Co. Whiskey War Barrel Proof Award: Gold Score: 91 Tasting Notes: Toasty notes. Sweet tea. Highclere Castle Spirits Highclere Castle Gin Award: Double Gold / Best of Show - Gin Score: 96 Tasting Notes: Anise, classic orange; floral, sexy, lingering, lavender. Hinterhaus Distilling California Buck Award: Gold Score: 92 Tasting Notes: Clean, balanced, fragrant, flavorful. Jaxon Keys Winery and Distillery Jaxon Keys Brandy Old Stock Award: Double Gold / Best of Class - Brandy Score: 95 Tasting Notes: Great flavor. Explosive, brightness. Intensity! True to style. Earthy sweet. Chicory root. Lightning Spirits Lightning Vodka Award: Gold Score: 90 Tasting Notes: Neutral classic. Richness; pleasant creaminess. Lightning Spirits Aquila Rum Award: Gold Score: 93

Tasting Notes: Clean, direct, real straight shooter, nice viscosity. Limbeck Group GmbH & Co. KG Proud, Strong & Noble Premium Gin Award: Gold Score: 90 Tasting Notes: Orange blossom; honey; lavender. MGP Luxco Iwnc. Remus Repeal Reserve Series V Award: Gold / Best of Class Score: 94 Tasting Notes: Red apples, toasty, nice sweetness, which was well integrated. MGP Luxco Inc. Green Hat Original Batch Gin Award: Gold Score: 90 Tasting Notes: Piney, lavender. MGP Luxco Inc. Green Hat Citrus Floral Gin Award: Gold Score: 90 Tasting Notes: Perfume; piney; cloves; layers; rosemary. MGP Luxco Inc. Rossville Union Master Crafted (94 Proof) Award: Gold Score: 91 Tasting Notes: Pleasant aromas, maraschino cherry, and red apple.

NCCGA of CT Vincenzi Limoncello di Torino Award: Gold Score: 92 Tasting Notes: Dynamic lemon, overall intensity, lemon oil integrity.

Red River Brewery and Distillery Silver King Vodka Award: Gold Score: 91 Tasting Notes: Vanilla, light citrus. Floral like a lemon blossom. Lingering and elegant finish.

Öömrang, Inc. Raspberry Brandy Award: Gold / Best of Class Score: 92 Tasting Notes: Balanced. Sharp. Pure, raspberry.

Redwood Empire Distillery Redwood Empire Grizzly Beast Award: Gold Score: 93 Tasting Notes: Clean, direct, good mineral quality.

Öömrang, Inc. Bartlett Pear Brandy Award: Gold Score: 90 Tasting Notes: True to style. Öömrang, Inc. Donut Peach Brandy Award: Gold Score: 90 Tasting Notes: Balanced, refreshing, fragrant. Pendray’s Distillery Pendray’s Amaro Award: Gold / Best of Class - Liquer Score: 94 Tasting Notes: Blood orange, with herbal notes. Earthiness, nice bitterness with orange finish. Racquet Club Spirits Vodka Award: Gold Score: 91 Tasting Notes: Well-rounded spirit; clean finish; delicate; purity; textured.

Royal Mash Royal Mash Vintage 2020 Award: Gold Score: 90 Tasting Notes: Clean finish, interesting minerality. Savage & Cooke, LLC DIGITS Award: Double Gold / Best of Class Score: 97 Tasting Notes: Toasty warmth, nice finish, caramel aromas, softer aged quality about it. Shelter Distilling Little Green Monster Award: Gold Score: 93 Tasting Notes: Black licorice flavor, anise sweetness on palate with minty after-taste.

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Sire Spirits Branson Cognac XO Award: Double Gold / Best Cognac Score: 98 Tasting Notes: Really delicious. Layered. Magnificence about it. Regal; quite elegant. Has an attitude. Sire Spirits Branson Cognac VSOP Royal Award: Double Gold Score: 95 Tasting Notes: Textbook; deep, rich, and inviting; sexy, smooth. Warm spice on the nose.

Spirit Works Distillery Straight Rye Whiskey Award: Gold Score: 92 Tasting Notes: Little smokey; full bodied; mellow finish, cedar-like on palate. Spirit Works Distillery Sloe Gin Award: Gold Score: 93 Tasting Notes: Berries and citrus, with warm spice. Lingering zippy finish. Straightaway ACCOMPANi Sweet Vermouth Award: Gold Score: 91 Tasting Notes: Meaty-ness. Balanced.

TAHOE SPIRITS, INC. Tahoe Blue Vodka Award: Double Gold / Best of Class Score: 97 Tasting Notes: Citrus, Orange, bright. Extremely clean. Focused, soft finish. The Brand Guild Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey Uncle Nearest 1820 Premium Single Barrel Whiskey - US-53 Award: Best of Class Score: 97 Tasting Notes: Complex sweet aromatics; rich, full round finish. The Brand Guild Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey Uncle Nearest 1884 Small Batch Whiskey Award: Double Gold Score: 96 Tasting Notes: Nice barrel profile. Toasty, sweet, clean.

Tiger Gin Award: Gold Score: 94 Tasting Notes: Blend of grapefruit citrus, wonderful spicy flavor, crisp and clean finish. Vánagandr Destilerías S.L. Vánagandr London Dry Gin Award: Double Gold Score: 95 Tasting Notes: Mint flowers, cinnamon, and citrus. Full bodied yet lush. You will want more! Venus Spirits Venus Spirits Aquavit Award: Gold Score: 91 Tasting Notes: Classic, fresh, caraway.

THOMAS J. STORY

Sire Spirits Branson Cognac VS Phantom Award: Gold Score: 90 Tasting Notes: True to form. Solid.

Sire Spirits Branson Cognac VSOP Grand Champagne Award: Gold Score: 94 Tasting Notes: So much personality. Rich, smokey crème brûlée.

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SUNSET • SPIRITS ISSUE 2022


SILVER MEDAL WINNERS (IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER) 503 Distilling Wildfire Cinnamon Rum Absinthia’s Bottled Spirits Absinthia Cocktail Syrups Caged Heat Absinthia’s Bottled Spirits Absinthia Cocktail Syrups Fairy Dust

Blue Spirits Distilling Tommy Bahama Tommy No. 2 Rum

Cutwater Spirits Cutwater Cucumber Vodka Soda

Branch Point Distillery TRIT Straight Whiskey

Cutwater Spirits Cutwater Orange Vodka Smash

Casa Capistrano Reposado

Cutwater Spirits Cutwater Rum & Cola

Cutwater Spirits Cutwater Peach Margarita Cutwater Spirits Cutwater Tequila Blanco Distillers Way LLC Doc Swinson’s Alter Ego Solera Aged Rye

Unbox the West

Absinthia’s Bottled Spirits Absinthia Organic Absinthe Superieure Absinthia Absinthe Blanche Barrel Brothers Brewing Company Orange Blossom Lemon Drop Barrel Brothers Brewing Company Makrut Lime Cosmo Bendistillery Crater Lake Spirits Rock & Rye Bently Heritage Estate Distillery Source One Single Estate Vodka, Rested in Sherry Oak Casks

Cierto Spirits Inc. Cierto Tequila Highland Collection - Blanco

Cutwater Spirits Cutwater Gin & Tonic

Cierto Spirits Inc. Cierto Tequila Highland Collection - Añejo

Cutwater Spirits Cutwater Bali Hai Piña Colada

Cierto Spirits Inc. Cierto Tequila Highland Collection - Extra Añejo

Cutwater Spirits Cutwater Vodka Mule

Cierto Spirits Inc. Cierto Tequila Private Collection -Reposado Cierto Spirits Inc. Cierto Tequila Private Collection Extra Anejo Cierto Spirits Inc. Cierto Tequila Reserve Collection Reposado Cierto Spirits Inc.

Cutwater Spirits Cutwater Tropical Tiki Rum Mai Tai Cutwater Spirits Cutwater Tequila Margarita Cutwater Spirits Cutwater Whiskey Mule Cutwater Spirits Cutwater Lime Tequila Soda Cutwater Spirits Cutwater Mezcal Cutwater Spirits Cutwater Long Island Iced Tea

The Sunset Subscription Box delivers the Cierto Tequila Reserve Collection - Anejodoor! Best ofHeritage the West straight to your Bently Cutwater Spirits Estate Distillery Cutwater Spirits Juniper Grove American Every three months, you’ll getCutwater a box full of Vodka Drydesign, Gin home, food, and gardening products

curated by Sunset editors to help you make the Cutwater Spirits mostBently of every season. Heritage Estate Cutwater Bali Hai Tiki You can choose the box that fits your style Distillery Rumsurprised and Juniper price point, then Gin get readyGold to be Grove Atrium and delighted by what you find inside! Think Cutwater artisanal food and culinary tools in the Spirits fall Blue Run Spirits Cutwater Grapefruit and holiday decorations and entertaining High Rye Vodka Soda products in Bourbon the winter. It’s the perfect way to give the gift of the West to family or friends.

Don Vicente Tequila Blanco Don Vicente Tequila Reposado Donati Wine and Spirits Bear and Prophet Premium Vodka Donati Wine and Spirits Bear and Prophet Vodka Rested on Oak E. & J. Gallo Winery High Noon Hard Seltzer Can E. & J. Gallo Winery E. & J. Brandy VS E. & J. Gallo Winery E&J Distillers VSOP

Sign up now at E. & J. Gallo Winery TheSunsetBox.com Cutwater Rum Mint Mojito High Noon Cutwater Spirits Cutwater Tequila Paloma Cutwater Spirits Cutwater White Russian

Hard Seltzer Can

E. & J. Gallo Winery High Noon Hard Seltzer Watermelon

E. & J. Gallo Winery Cutwater Spirits High Noon Hard Seltzer Cutwater Grape Vodka Transfusion Peach Exclusive Sunset puzzle in every box! SPIRITS ISSUE 2021 • SUNSET

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A

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•D

U

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BL E E GO GOLD MEDAL AND ABOVE WINNERS (IN L D MALPHABETICAL ORDER) CONTINUED

Sire Spirits Branson Cognac XO Award: Double Gold / Best Cognac Score: 98 Tasting Notes: Really delicious. Layered. Magnificence about it. Regal; quite elegant. Has an attitude. Sire Spirits Branson Cognac VSOP Royal Award: Double Gold Score: 95 Tasting Notes: Textbook; deep, rich, and inviting; sexy, smooth. Warm spice on the nose. Sire Spirits Branson Cognac VS Phantom Award: Gold Score: 90 Tasting Notes: True to form. Solid.

Sire Spirits Branson Cognac VSOP Grand Champagne Award: Gold Score: 94 Tasting Notes: So much personality. Rich, smokey crème brûlée. Spirit Works Distillery Straight Rye Whiskey Award: Gold Score: 92 Tasting Notes: Little smokey; full bodied; mellow finish, cedar-like on palate. Spirit Works Distillery Sloe Gin Award: Gold Score: 93 Tasting Notes: Berries and citrus, with warm spice. Lingering zippy finish. Straightaway ACCOMPANi Sweet Vermouth Award: Gold Score: 91 Tasting Notes: Meaty-ness. Balanced.

TAHOE SPIRITS, INC. Tahoe Blue Vodka Award: Double Gold / Best of Class Score: 97 Tasting Notes: Citrus, Orange, bright. Extremely clean. Focused, soft finish. The Brand Guild Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey Uncle Nearest 1820 Premium Single Barrel Whiskey - US-53 Award: Best of Class Score: 97 Tasting Notes: Complex sweet aromatics; rich, full round finish. The Brand Guild Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey Uncle Nearest 1884 Small Batch Whiskey Award: Double Gold Score: 96 Tasting Notes: Nice barrel profile. Toasty, sweet, clean.

Tiger Gin Award: Gold Score: 94 Tasting Notes: Blend of grapefruit citrus, wonderful spicy flavor, crisp and clean finish. Vánagandr Destilerías S.L. Vánagandr London Dry Gin Award: Double Gold Score: 95 Tasting Notes: Mint flowers, cinnamon, and citrus. Full bodied yet lush. You will want more! Venus Spirits Venus Spirits Aquavit Award: Gold Score: 91 Tasting Notes: Classic, fresh, caraway.

B EST O F C L ASS

Tommy Bahama Rye & Cucumber Vodka

www.TommyBahamaSpirits.Store

SIP THE ISLAND LIFE 44

SUNSET • SPIRITS ISSUE 2022

THOMAS J. STORY

Available at finer Retail Establishments and online at


SILVER MEDAL WINNERS (IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER) 503 Distilling Wildfire Cinnamon Rum Absinthia’s Bottled Spirits Absinthia Cocktail Syrups Caged Heat Absinthia’s Bottled Spirits Absinthia Cocktail Syrups Fairy Dust Absinthia’s Bottled Spirits Absinthia Organic Absinthe Superieure Absinthia Absinthe Blanche Barrel Brothers Brewing Company Orange Blossom Lemon Drop Barrel Brothers Brewing Company Makrut Lime Cosmo Bendistillery Crater Lake Spirits Rock & Rye Bently Heritage Estate Distillery Source One Single Estate Vodka, Rested in Sherry Oak Casks Bently Heritage Estate Distillery Juniper Grove American Dry Gin Bently Heritage Estate Distillery Juniper Grove Atrium Gin Blue Run Spirits High Rye Bourbon

Blue Spirits Distilling Tommy Bahama Tommy No. 2 Rum

Cutwater Spirits Cutwater Cucumber Vodka Soda

Branch Point Distillery TRIT Straight Whiskey

Cutwater Spirits Cutwater Orange Vodka Smash

Casa Capistrano Reposado

Cutwater Spirits Cutwater Rum & Cola

Cierto Spirits Inc. Cierto Tequila Highland Collection - Blanco

Cutwater Spirits Cutwater Gin & Tonic

Cierto Spirits Inc. Cierto Tequila Highland Collection - Añejo

Cutwater Spirits Cutwater Bali Hai Piña Colada

Cierto Spirits Inc. Cierto Tequila Highland Collection - Extra Añejo

Cutwater Spirits Cutwater Vodka Mule

Cierto Spirits Inc. Cierto Tequila Private Collection -Reposado Cierto Spirits Inc. Cierto Tequila Private Collection Extra Anejo Cierto Spirits Inc. Cierto Tequila Reserve Collection Reposado Cierto Spirits Inc. Cierto Tequila Reserve Collection - Anejo Cutwater Spirits Cutwater Vodka Cutwater Spirits Cutwater Bali Hai Tiki Gold Rum Cutwater Spirits Cutwater Grapefruit Vodka Soda

Cutwater Spirits Cutwater Tropical Tiki Rum Mai Tai Cutwater Spirits Cutwater Tequila Margarita Cutwater Spirits Cutwater Whiskey Mule Cutwater Spirits Cutwater Lime Tequila Soda Cutwater Spirits Cutwater Mezcal Cutwater Spirits Cutwater Long Island Iced Tea Cutwater Spirits Cutwater Rum Mint Mojito Cutwater Spirits Cutwater Tequila Paloma

Cutwater Spirits Cutwater Peach Margarita Cutwater Spirits Cutwater Tequila Blanco Distillers Way LLC Doc Swinson’s Alter Ego Solera Aged Rye Don Vicente Tequila Blanco Don Vicente Tequila Reposado Donati Wine and Spirits Bear and Prophet Premium Vodka Donati Wine and Spirits Bear and Prophet Vodka Rested on Oak E. & J. Gallo Winery High Noon Hard Seltzer Can E. & J. Gallo Winery E. & J. Brandy VS E. & J. Gallo Winery E&J Distillers VSOP E. & J. Gallo Winery High Noon Hard Seltzer Can

Cutwater Spirits Cutwater White Russian

E. & J. Gallo Winery High Noon Hard Seltzer Watermelon

Cutwater Spirits Cutwater Grape Vodka Transfusion

E. & J. Gallo Winery High Noon Hard Seltzer Peach

SPIRITS ISSUE 2021 • SUNSET

45


SILVER MEDAL WINNERS (IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER) CONTINUED E. & J. Gallo Winery Lo-Fi Aperitifs Dry Vermouth

Hinterhaus Distilling Hinterhaus Vodka

NCCGA of CT Vincenzi Arancia

E. & J. Gallo Winery Lo-Fi Aperitifs Sweet Vermouth

Hinterhaus Distilling Hinterhaus Vapor Infused Gin

NCCGA of CT Vincenzi Bellini Peach

E. & J. Gallo Winery New Amsterdam Vodka

Hinterhaus Distilling Anorak

Öömrang, Inc. Cherry Brandy

JackFromBrooklyn Sorel

Öömrang, Inc. Apricot Brandy

Ko Hana Distillers Ko Hana Hawaiian Agricole Rum KEA

Racquet Club Spirits Premium Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Ko Hana Distillers Ko Hana Hawaiian Agricole Rum Kokoleka

Redwood Empire Distillery Rocket Top

Garrison Brothers Garrison Brothers Single Barrel Garrison Brothers Garrison Brothers Small Batch Garrison Brothers Garrison Brothers Balmorhea Garrison Brothers Garrison Brothers Cowboy Garrison Brothers Garrison Brothers Honey Dew Grand Teton Distillery Grand Teton Private Stock Whiskey

LaForce / The Botanist Islay Dry Gin The Botanist Islay Dry Gin

SUNSET • SPIRITS ISSUE 2022

Rock Creek Distillery Schultz Vodka

MGP Luxco Inc. George Remus Bourbon

Shelter Distilling High Sierra Whiskey

MGP Luxco Inc. Rossville Union Barrel Proof

Shelter Distilling O’Pinyon Gin

Mor-hemp Tusk Rum Tusk

46

Rock Creek Distillery Dead Parrot Rum Dead Parrot Silver Rum

Shelter Distilling Embers

Soave di Dario Olmeo Soero Gin Soero Straightaway ACCOMPANi Flora Green Straightaway ACCOMPANi Mari Gold The Brand Guild Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Aged Whiskey The Brand Guild Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey Uncle Nearest Master Blend Edition The Original Irving Whiskey LLC The Original Irving Straight Bourbon Whiskey Trail Distilling Trail Gin & Tonic Venus Spirits Venus Spirits Gin Gimlet Venus Spirits Venus Spirits Mule


BRONZE MEDAL WINNERS (IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER) Bendistillery Crater Lake Spirits Reserve Gin Bently Heritage Estate Distillery Juniper Grove Alpine Gin Blue Ridge Distilling Company Defiant 100% Rye Blue Ridge Distilling Company Defiant American Single Malt Whisky

Blue Spirits Distilling Tommy Bahama Island Gin

Cutwater Spirits Cutwater Lime Vodka Soda

Mor-hemp Tusk Vodka Tusk

Casa Capistrano Añejo Cristalino

E.& J. Gallo Winery High Noon Hard Seltzer Grapfruit

Öömrang, Inc. Raspberry Geist Brandy

Cierto Spirits Inc. Cierto Tequila Reserve Collection - Blanco Cutwater Spirits Cutwater White Rum Cutwater Spirits Cutwater Huckleberry Vodka Spritz

E.& J. Gallo Winery High Noon Hard Seltzer Hard Seltzer Lime E.& J. Gallo Winery New Amsterdam Gin Lee Spirits Company Strawberry Lemonade

Straightaway The Swizzle Straightaway Paloma Wild Roots Vodka Wild Roots Vodka & Sodas Blackberry

THOMAS J. STORY

Lee Spirits Company Lavender Lemonade

Öömrang, Inc. Blueberry Geist Brandy

SPIRITS ISSUE 2021 • SUNSET

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SUNSET • SPIRITS ISSUE 2022


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